Star Wars has been a cultural touchstone since the original film debuted in theaters more than 40 years ago. Today, the Star Wars brand is still led by the ongoing movie series. Each Star Wars movie release stirs frantic buzz across the world. Consider the fact that there’s a Chrome extension with the sole purpose of saving you from Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoilers.
Although the frenzy surrounding The Last Jedi reminds us that the films have propelled the franchise to dizzying heights, Star Wars has retained popularity during the lulls between movies by infiltrating entertainment as a whole. From toys to books to television to branded products galore, Star Wars is everywhere (as its $42 billion net worth shows). Star Wars has been an enduring force in video games, as well, with hundreds of licensed titles released across generations of gaming platforms since the 1980s.
When compiling our list of favorite Star Wars games, we realized the video game side of the science fiction franchise is experiencing a bout of the prequel trilogy blues. Sure, Star Wars Battlefront II has The Last Jedi content, but does that make it more fun than Super Star Wars or Knights of the Old Republic? We aren’t so sure.
There’s reason for optimism, though: Electronic Arts has more AAA Star Wars titles in the works. The movies bounced back with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and so can the games. For now, let’s take a look at our 10 favorite Star Wars games.
‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic‘ (2003)
Bioware’s first foray into the vast reaches of space — before the blockbuster Mass Effect series — came in 2003, with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
While the combat — a less streamlined version of the combat in Bioware’s later RPG series — can feel a bit choppy and sluggish at times, the game’s true value lies mostly in its gripping narrative and incredibly detailed world. KOTOR, as fans call it, features an epic story spread across 10 locations and features hundreds of unique characters, each with well-written dialogue and interesting backstories. No Star Wars adventure outside of the films feels quite as expansive and detailed as this.
‘Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ (1994)
If you’re a Star Wars and Dark Souls fan (or just a masochist), the Super Nintendo’s Super Star Wars series might be right up your alley. The majority of the game is a Contra-style side-scroller featuring some platforming elements and lots of baddies to blow through, with several iconic boss battles that test both your skill and your patience. During the course of the game, you take control of the series’ most iconic heroes — Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca — along with a fun bonus option later in the story. Though Return of the Jedi is probably the easiest of the three, they are all ruthless. Super Return of the Jedi is also the most polished and offers more varied gameplay than Episodes IV and V.
‘Star Wars: Dark Forces’ (1995)
These days, if a developer were to co-opt a popular intellectual property, re-skin a popular game, and release it, they would likely get ridiculed. In the 1990s, though, years after Return of the Jedi, fans were just happy to play anything with stormtroopers on the cover. Enter Star Wars: Dark Forces, which paired the gameplay of Doom with the mythos of Star Wars. Dark Forces introduced the world to Kyle Katarn, a rebel mercenary out to stop the Empire’s Dark Trooper project. Dark Forces did add a few tricks to set it apart, including the ability to jump, crouch, and look up or down.
‘Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy’ (2003)
In Jedi Academy, players take control of Jaden Korr, a Jedi trainee learning his or her craft at the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV following the original trilogy. As players complete missions, they build up a host of Jedi powers, which can, in turn, be used to flesh out awesome duels against Sith assassins. Those mechanics, by the way, are superb; developers Raven Software made excellent use of Quake III‘s id Tech 3 engine to give saber fights a weighty, epic feel. There’s also a smattering of platforming action, and it’s utilized more effectively than in Jedi Outcast (which is also worth playing, while we’re on the subject).